Scientific research in the field of psychology and mental health has indicated that teenagers (age 13-19 years) are now experiencing more emotional and mental difficulties than ever before. As exposure to the digital world has increased, thanks to easily accessible smart phones, unlimited internet, and innumerable social media platforms, teenagers can now watch and listen to anything from any part of the world. Their relationships has transitioned from being one of face-to-face interaction to becoming a completely digital one; texting, sharing pictures and ‘Reels’, and co-working online is the new version of friendship.
This transition has led to more signs of depression and anxiety in teenagers, where the meanings and importance of social comparison and social acceptance have changed.
Young teenagers want to dress and speak a certain way primarily to gain acceptance in their peer groups and want to post ‘selfies’ which are often edited and enhanced digitally to gain more ‘likes’. These factors, added to the very real pressure of performing well in school, have led to a decline in how adolescents feel.
Parents and teachers now need to become more alert and watchful for symptoms where their child or students acts strangely; this could include signs of being very irritated, anxious, isolated from real social connections, strong mood swings, and declining academic performance. At this stage, the parent or teacher must create a safe space for the child to have an open and honest conversation about their feelings.
School counsellors and other professional therapists should also be approached if your assess that the situation is becoming serious for your child’s well-being. Acceptance from the family and a non-judgmental approach will not only increase a teenager’s self-esteem, but will also enable healthy relationships within the family.
If you are a teenager reaching this, and you or your friend is struggling with your emotions, please reach out to your parents, teachers, or school counselors. Do not hesitate to ask for help.
If you are a parent or a teacher, and you find one of your children/students struggling, please reach out to them gently, with love, and without judgment. They need someone to talk to, without being afraid of the consequences.